Now, CAS for all
Following the strategy to implement the Conditional Access System for all, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on April 08 has decided to implement this system first in the remaining areas of metros and then across the country in a phased manner under one go procedure.
A meeting was organised on Tuesday between the ministry and all stakeholders to finalise the procedure to extend CAS across the country. It was decided that first CAS system would be extended in the remaining zones of three metro cities, Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata where CAS system were implemented only some selective areas. CAS system is already going on in entire Chennai.
After finishing the target, the players would go through the 55 other spotted cities including all state capitals. The government has decided to complete the target by September 2011, while the process would begin since October 2008.
The official of I&B ministry and representatives from all stakeholders including cable operators, multi-system operators (MSOs), direct-to-home (DTH) players and broadcasters had attended the meeting.
Earlier, to widen the CAS system, Telephone Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had made a committee of representatives from expert groups to study and to submit its report to TRAI. The group has submitted its report on June 2007, while after scrutinising and modifying; TRAI had submitted final report to I&B Ministry in last December.
Besides, committee of expert group set up by TRAI, the members of other authority has also submitted their report recommending to implement CAS system in 55 cities across the country, which have more than 10-lakh population.
The members from I&B ministry, Prasar Bharti, consumer organisations, broadcasters, MSOs, DTH operators, cable operators, distributor associations and technical experts were indulged in the committee.
It was decided in the meeting that before implanting the CAS system, a notification would be released and after six month of releasing the notification, the first phase would begin. The process of covering identified 55-cities would also be completed by 2011.
“The moves of I&B ministry towards CAS system will force the cable operator to charge money only for accessed channel not for all,” said an official of I&B ministry. However, some customers, especially from small towns are not happy with this decision as they pay less money for all channels. There, the cable operators broadcast the new films on the cable TV using pirated CDs.
Currently, in Metros, the operators charges Rs. 150 to Rs. 500 depending upon the zone for different channels to the customers. While, the customers reported in the Ministry that most of the channels were worthless for them and operators charged money for it, which is unfair.
Besides customers, the small operators also alleged the government, “It is government’s move to ruin the small operators. This CAS rule will only be beneficial for the big cable operators and DTH players, who are already affluent and will become richer because of this rule.”
“The mandatory requirement of CAS hardware (Set Top Box) puts financial pressure on consumers of worth minimum Rs.1500, while we provide cable facility in minimum Rs.350 as hardware charges,” small operators alleged government.
On the other hand, for adopting DTH system, customers have to pay more in terms of DTH hardware. However, DTH players claim to provide best service and superior picture quality in minimum charges.
Conditional Access System (CAS) by its name represents a controlling system technology using Set-top-box that allows the consumer to access the desired channels and operators can charge only for those channels, which are ‘paid’. For ‘Free-to-air’ channels, customers have to pay only Rs. 100-150 per month depending upon the numbers of channels. The STB is available in minimum Rs.1500 at lump sum amount or on rentals ranging from Rs.50-Rs.150.
As per cable industry estimates, as much as 2.2 millions of STB would require to provide the CAS subscriber in all three metros, which would cost approximately Rs.600-crore.
After, the meeting, the ministry official told media to convene one more meeting shortly to deal with some important issues before announcing the dates for implementation.
On the issue of piracy, government however has not set up a deadline, but assured that that a smaller group would meet and sort out some important issues like how to tackle piracy and solve billing and QoS issues. A date of implementing first phase of CAS in metros would be declared only after this.
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